Summary: What the lives of individual followers of Christ are saying about Christ and the church to the world around them.
Recently we were thinking about getting a new church sign. The old one doesn’t communicate well. It’s not only out of date, it just doesn’t stand out. The impression it makes doesn’t create curiosity and interest in our church to passers by.
Made me think about our lives as believers in Christ. Do we communicate our faith in Christ in an effective manner to our friends who don’t yet know Him? Does our life create curiosity and interest in others? Do we need to update our lives as HUMAN CHURCH SIGNS before we concern ourselves with the metal and plastic kind of sign in the church lawn?
Consider what Our Lord and Master Jesus himself said to His followers:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth life unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
These are familiar words that can easily be taken for granted. Let me tell you three ways I believe these words of Christ teach we are HUMAN CHURCH SIGNS:
1. A sign is something put in a place of high visibility.
Jesus said believers "are the light of the world" -not "we can become the light of the world’. "A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid".
Try as you may, if you are a believer in Christ, your faith in Him makes you someone other people are evaluating. You are the "city set on the hill". You are the human church sign. Fair or not, others will get their first and sometimes their only impression about what Christ and the church are like from watching your life.
Here are some things people notice about us:
a. How we treat others.
Love and respect are two very important commodities for Christ followers. Your family and friends who haven’t yet made a commitment to Christ won’t be impacted as much by your knowledge as by how much you care for them. ("They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care".)
That’s why Jesus was so effective (and sometimes why we’re not). He showed love and respect to everyone. He attracted followers by being kind, generous, unselfish, friendly, courteous, thoughtful, etc.
Jesus helped people meet their needs, and He asked for nothing in return. He didn’t meet a segment of society that was above Him or below Him. He was just as accomodating to lepers as he was rulers. He didn’t discriminate along racial or gender lines. He gave audience to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews in John 3, and then a Samaritan woman in John 4.
I’ve often wondered what the "rest of the story" was for Jesus to be able to walk up to fishermen like Peter and Andrew and cause them to leave their nets at His request, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men". (Matthew 4:19) I think they not only sensed something about Christ’s love for them, but I also think they wanted to participate in a way of life that would show His love to others. The emphasis on "fishers of men" is often "believers bragging about who caught the biggest or most fish". To the early disciples I believe the emphasis was on "men". I believe they wanted to love and to be loved, and Jesus afforded them an opportunity to live that lifestyle. People are still hungry to love and be loved today!
b. Secondly, others notice how we respond to tough times.
When your faith is challenged do you express doubt or confidence in God? There must be a reality to your faith in the storm for others to want what you have. Anyone can smile on a sunny day. Oh I’m not saying you have to be a fake. That will only hinder your effectiveness at causing others to want what you have. But you will have to show them a faith that conquers if you expect them to come along.
That’s why discipleship is so important. Being a Christ follower involves deepening your faith. Learning the essentials of walking with God through study of the Bible and daily prayer and meditation.
Recently I read with interest the first issue of a new magazine entitled, "My Generation" (March/April 2001). It’s a new magazine specifially for Baby Boomers. Now you may not be a boomer but I think you will find this interesting.
In an article entitled, "Leap of Faith", the magazine reports that a third of baby boomers are "born again" Christians. Even so, the article continues, one-quarter of born again boomers believes in the possibility of communicating with the dead; a third, in reincarnation and astrology; and half, in psychic powers.